History of evolution and cultivation

About 250 species of woody plants growing almost throughout the northern hemisphere is classified to genus Lonicera. Up to now ornamental species have been marked above all. They are part and parcel of this big genus. But recently some species of genus Lonicera have been starting to be used like fruit plants too.

Edible berries of honeysuckle, however, are no epochal news. Lonicera has been known by original inhabitants in its habitat for hundreds years. First mention is found in literature in the end of 17th century, in legends of Russian explorer Vladimir Atlasov. Explorer, ethnographer and natural scientist Stepan Kraseninnikov mentioned in his writing about Kamcatka in the second half of 18th century, what kind of way local inhabitants use honeysuckle´s berries and what kind of way they process it. In year 1836 Peter Kuzmisev recommended cultivation of this interesting fruit species in regions of northern Russia. About new fruit culture – honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea) has been possible to think over approximately since year 1892, when propagator of cultivating Lonicera in orchards, T. D. Mauritc, published her results in periodical “Plodovodstvo”.

Originally written down species Lonicera caerulea is spread in mild zones of Europe, Asia and northern America. This huge centre of gene variability together with long period, when honeysuckle developed and adapted to conditions after transfer of glacier (approximately 1,5 – 2 milliard years), is cause of a great diversity of this species. Primary species Lonicera caerulea had adapted in consequence of different climatic-soil et al. conditions, after grew up plants with typically varied marks and characters. That is why botanist divided this primary species into several morphological varied species, united into subsection caerulea.

Not all kinds of the subsection caerulea however have edible fruits of acceptable sweet-sour taste, suitable to consummate fresh. On that account Russian breeders took decision to combine characteristics of single species and to create varieties, which rank among species Lonicera caerulea, although their parents may be also from the others species, first L. kamtschatica, L. altaica and next ones.

Botanical species and subspecies of genus Lonicera

– tetraploid honeysuckles

Lonicera caerulea L. – Originally written down species effused in Europe, Asia and northern America. Its numerous subspecies were together interbred and offered many interesting varieties.

Lonicera pallasii (syn. L. caerulea subsp. pallasii) – It grows in forests of northern Russia, in Murmansk, Archangelsk and Bologodsk areas, in Ural, in lowlands of western and eastern Siberia and in areas of Scandinavia. It has sor-bitter berries, that are by local inhabitants regarded like uneatable.

Lonicera altaica Pall. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. altaica) – It grows in areas of Altaj and Sajan in 1000 m above sea-level. Has great bitter fruits, that local inhabitants process and regard as medicinal plant. It’s a source of frost-resistance of varieties.

Lonicera kamtschatica Sevast. Pojark. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. kamtschatica) – Slowly growing shrub with fruits sweet as much as sour-sweet, without bitter taste. It grows in Kamcatka, Sachalin and in Magadansk area, in marginal tundras, on downhills and riversides. It has small yield. It’s most often used as a starting material for cultivation of new varieties. It’s a source of aroma, big fruits, undeciduousness and good transportability of fruits of bred varieties.

Lonicera venulosa (syn. L. caerulea subsp. venulosa) – It grows in area Primorsk and Chabarovsk. For varieties it is a source of high growth, early and high fertility and sweet-sour fruits with remarkable bitter taste.

Lonicera emphyllocalyx (syn. L. caerulea subsp. emphyllocalyx) – It grows in Kuril Islands.

– diploid species

Lonicera edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn. – Diploid species with sweet and very easily deciduous berries. It grows in region of river Amur.

Lonicera boczkarnikowae Plekh. – Endemic species from Far East with well transportable sweet berries.

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